November 13, 2006
Parametric 5-Axis Machining
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One of TopSolid'Cam's greatest forces is its ability to manage all machining processes thereby making it one of the only CAM solutions on the market which is able to machine all parts by offering the most suitable machining process. TopSolid'Cam is capable of piloting turning, 2-axis milling, 3-axis milling, 4- and 5-axis continued milling, 4- and 5-axis continued turning, synchronization and complex simulation.
Today, the optimization of the digital calculation of objects has led designers to create shapes which can only be made by using machines able to operate in 5 continuous axis. Before looking at what TopSolid'Cam proposes for the machining of such parts, let's take a look at the 2 main cases where continuous 5 -xis machining is used:
Spinning wheels, aeronautical parts, air ducts of certain cylinder heads are some examples of parts which can only be manufactured using a 5-axis machine tool. TopSolid'Cam offers two main strategies for the machining of such parts:
For parts which may be machined on a 3-axis machine, TopSolid'Cam can transform a classical 3-axis toolpath into a 5-axis toolpath. This option permits the use of shorter tools which offers better cutting conditions, a reduction of possible vibrations and a significant reduction in machining times. (This function is frequently used by mold makers, for whom the automatic management of collisions, now available in TopSolid'Cam, is very important. This means that the tool orientation is automatically modified in the case of a collision or rubbing with the part.)
We have seen that TopSolid'Cam offers continuous 5-axis machining solutions to its customers which reduce machining times, increase part quality and reduce tool costs. TopSolid'Cam also proposes other powerful functions which are essential for continuous 5 axis machining:
TopSolid'Cam manages all machining processes from 2D to 5 axis machining. One of the main interests of TopSolid'Cam is the richness of functionalities it offers to its operators. The sub-contractor who today works in 2D may, in the future, need to machine complex 5 axis parts in order to stay competitive. With TopSolid'Cam such a company can take on new complex parts with TopSolid'Cam without the fear of having to change software if its work processes change.
by Jeffrey Rowe, Editor
I met with Missler Software for the first time a couple of months ago at IMTS in Chicago and spent a lot of time looking at TopSolid'Cam. As a matter of fact, I came back to the exhibit booth three times because of the breadth and depth it had. I realized early on in the demos, that TopSolid'Cam would be well suited for mold making and for machining the complex shapes that are omnipresent in the aerospace and automotive industries.
TopSolid'CAM is a part of Missler Software's integrated CAD/CAM product line. The CAM-software optimizes CAM-programming for all kinds of parts. TopSolid'CAM can be integrated into different manufacturing styles and production requirements through its dynamic libraries.
It can also minimize or eliminate repetitive tasks. For example, instead of a user creating multiple tasks, it creates the tasks based on manufacturing knowledge obtained from the product design. Through parametric technologies, it automatically chooses the fastest and most economical way to machine parts. This ability enables associating specific tools with a particular machining task. When a design change is implemented, the associated machining process is changed, including the optimization of cutter sizes, feeds and speeds required to produce the new part based on the design change.
TopSolid'CAM has an associative database allowing it to adapt to particular production methods and machinery. For an example, when adapting tolerances from design to machining, the software automatically re-dimensions the part.
Some of the highlights that I noted during demonstrations of TopSolid'Cam 2006 included:
I am by no means an expert on CAM software, but based on competing products, TopSolid'CAM seems more open and parametric than most other CAM software that I've seen, because it automates a lot of processes and provides parts programming optimization. I'm sure I'll hear from competitors on this last statement, but TopSolid'CAM seemed well thought and approachable for the complex processes it is able to handle. After all, the purpose of a CAM tool is to cut metal, not air.
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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.
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